Contract-form-free protection foundation of new Code of Work concept

Prof. Houweling (chairman/initiator of the VAAN-VvA expert group & professor of Labor Law) and Prof. Even (Erasmus School of Law) have designed a concept of the Code of Work 2025. On 7 June 2019, the newspaper Financieele Dagblad already wrote an article about this concept (in Dutch): 'Een heel nieuw Wetboek van Werk ontwerpen is beter dan bestaande regels blijven repareren'. The Staatscourant, en BNR Nieuwsradio also paid attention to this project. We've talked to Prof. Houweling about the new Code of Work.

Why did you start with the Code of Work project?
The dichotomy on the labour market, people with lots of protection and people with flex contracts, as well as the growing group of 'working poor', has reached an alarming point. We are deeply concerned about the effect of the large group of vulnerable workers in a subsequent recession. This is not only said by us and, for example, the 'Commissie Borstlap', but also follows from various authoritative reports (see, for example, reports from OECD, CBS, CPB and ILO). You must, therefore, repair the roof when it is dry. And we think the sun is shining at the moment.

Some call your work "revolutionary," why?
I don't know if it's revolutionary. If you mainly read the international reports from ILO and OESE, you will quickly come to the same conclusions we draw. The Code of Work and the idea behind it are fundamentally different from the current regulation of Dutch labour law.

What are your starting points?
Our starting point is the fundamental value of work in a broad sense: for individuals, organizations, economy and society. This includes equal legal protection, participation and support for, including the equal tax treatment of, all who work for the benefit of another person in his profession or business, regardless of the type of work contract. This, therefore, leads to a broadening of the personal scope of labour law. We, therefore, prefer to speak about "workers' rights".

In addition, organizing, facilitating and mobilizing "Lifelong Learning" is essential. The 'job for life' is dying out more and more. If you want to participate and join the labour market, you will have to keep on developing yourself. This requires training, but especially time and resources. Incidentally, this also requires changes to our current educational system.

The third principle is simplicity and sustainability. The arrangement must be clear and simple. Moreover, the Code must last a long time, while nobody can tell us what the world will look like in 10 years. That is why, in this phase of the design, a lot of attention is paid to smart learning, Artificial Intelligence and technology that can help us to get the Code up to date and to keep it up to date.

The writing of all legal texts starts now?
Yes, that's right. More important is the creation of broader support. Labour Law is an emotionally charged theme, which also is highly political polarized Thinking about the this transition is at least as important as legal technology, if not more important.

When will it be finished?
When it's finished. But the regulation is called "Code of Work 2025, so...